Topiary GardenTopiary can be described as the art of clipping shrubs into ornamental forms to create living sculptures. The word comes from the Latin word topiarus, meaning landscape gardener and this artful form of gardening can be traced to 1st century AD Roman gardeners. During the Renaissance it was a mainstay of formal European gardens and topiary plants are still in high demand today.

I like topiary because in spite of its rigid appearance it is quite flexible in application. A standard topiary is an excellent choice for punctuating an entry or, when used in a series, to create a sense of rhythm. And of course, the fantastic forms one can create are a natural for bringing your garden a touch of whimsy.

The gardener Rosemary Verey grew several burning bushes (Euonymus alata) as standards lined up along a central pathway in her garden at in Gloucester, England. In fall these lollipop-shaped topiares ignited the path with fiery red foliage. One day when I was visiting she told me with a wry grin that she was encouraging everyone to call them "great balls of fire." What great inspiration to get out the shears and start clipping!